Thursday, January 25, 2018

Making Waves with Low Power AM Radio

As most of u know; Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department worked together from the early 1990s up through the late 1990s researching and evaluating the use of broadcasting via part 15 on 1200AM as a viable alternative to the more expensive and sometimes difficult to acquire licensed TIS option.

For those of you are not already aware of it, checkout this post from back in 2014: SeaGrant explores Part 15

"This project evaluated the effectiveness of a 100 milliwatt low power radio broadcast in providing coastal resource interpretation to visitors parked at a scenic overlook. LPR is a limited broadcast range AM radio station that park visitors can tune-in on their car radio to hear pre-recorded messages.
 There are several advantages of using 100 milliwatt LPR units in coastal parks instead of a 10 Watt transmitter placed along the highway...."

Well, shortly after that, Oregon Sea Grant also produced an educational 18 minute video called "Making Waves with Low Power AM Radio".  I saw this video many years ago when I first got into the hobby, but couldn't recall if it specifically addressed part 15 or not, but it would seem so. Anyway I was curious to see this video again and was able to track down a Real Media version of it via the internet archive here: lpr.rm, but my tablet wasn't capable of playing it, maybe a regular computer can. Then I noticed offered at the ISS site...

So last August I requested the complementary CD offering:
 "Making Waves with Low Power AM".
The "Making Waves" CD was originally released on VHS in 2001 as an educational video produced by Sea Grant and funded by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, and the United States Department of Commerce. Later the National Park Service reproduced it in this CD version which was distributed to all park managers and staff to tout the benefits of using low power AM stations as a means to provide information to the visiting public.

Although the ISS website does offer that cd version here:,  I wasn't sure if it was even still a valid offer since the date on that page it over 15 years ago, but I clicked the email link and simply provided my name and mailing address and nothing else:
Later the same day I received this response:

Thank you for your request. Your cd will be mailed via the US Postal Service this week.

All the best,

Linda Folland
Information Station Specialists

In case you don't know; Information Station Specialist (ISS) has been the primary supplier of traveler information stations in the US since 1983, and provides both licensed and unlicensed options of transmitter systems; the unlicensed option being their Part15AM "InfoSpot" system.

August 9, 2017 - My copy arrived in the mail in a white manila envelope and inside contained a handsome black folder that sported an embossed ISS logo.

The folder housed a four page brochure detailing two licensed Information Station options, as well as a two page document detailing their InfoSpot unlicensed Part 15 transmitter system. Also encased in the folder was the 'Making Waves' CD which is printed in color graphics and
protected by it's plastic case which also holds a small pamphlet that describes an overview of the contents of the video.

In under 20 minutes it describes how low power information stations are being used in parks, museums, marinas, and the like. The locations featured in this video are mostly along coastal waters within the states of Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Orleans, and Florida.

 There are numerous audio samplings of the content they are broadcasting, and if you pay close attention you can pretty much determine by listening which are the licensed TIS and which ones are the stations operating under Part 15..

For example, one area in Florida has Jimmy Buffet doing the announcements as some of his music is playing, other broadcast also feature music backgrounds and others are advertising.. All these we know to be operating under part 15.

I also got the impression that every time a "Low Power AM" logo was superimposed on the screen that it indicated it to be a Part 15 broadcast, but upon watching it again I'm not so sure that's actually the case.

There are numerous interviews of officials and local staffs expressing and detailing the popularity, use, and the low maintenance that's involved with the systems. The listening public in their cars are also interviewed and they express their own opinions of the broadcast.

It's not particularly detailed, and doesn't really specify or show the transmitters or installations or anything like that (well, actually it briefly does show one transmitter but you're not able to derive much from it.), it's just an overall basic overview.

- Cost: 10 watt vs. Part 15 option -
However, it does clearly specify and spell out both the licensed TIS as well as unlicensed Part15 options of broadcast, and also the cost involved with each option..
Or at least what it cost back in 2001 anyway

Overall the video was well done and informative, without being too detailed. It's a long public service announcement type thing promoting the use of the technology..

I enjoyed it and am happy to have a copy. I suggest you request a copy for yourself as it's a nice piece of part 15 paraphilia to keep around your studio.

However... I should mention.. and I'm just speculating, I could be completely wrong, but I noticed they spent just over $2 postage to send this to me.. When I requested it, I provided no information at all other than my name and mailing address - I can't help but wonder if they would have sent it to me had they known I was nothing more than a part15 hobbyist and not some kind of organization? I mean, I wasn't trying to hide the fact, and it didn't really occur to me till later, but I presume they are giving these away as a promotional tool to encourage sales of their products, and might not be so keen about spending $2 a pop for every Tom, Dick, and Harry, or Mary, or Sue that wants a copy just for the novelty of it... Or maybe they don't mind at all, I don't know. I'm just saying it's something to consider.

Use your own judgment. The request a copy link is at the bottom of this linked page:


  1. Received my CD from ISS. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Great site! Nothing more fun to build low power transmitters! I've done my share, see
    73's Jack


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